The chief federal prosecutor for the eastern half of Kentucky says his office is getting a new prosecutor dedicated to fighting fentanyl, the powerful opioid that was found in more than half the people who died of drug overdoses in the state last year.
|U.S. Attorney Rob Duncan|
"We will aggressively prosecute cases involving the distribution of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids — because with these drugs, there is no such thing as a small case," U.S. Attorney Robert M. Duncan Jr. wrote in an op-ed for the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in July that Kentucky was one of eight states that would be getting a total of 10 fentanyl prosecutors.
"The Eastern District of Kentucky is at Ground Zero in the overdose crisis," Duncan wrote. "During 2017, in the 67 counties comprising our district, we had 894 overdose deaths, approximately 61 percent of the resident overdose deaths for the entire state. More alarmingly, the top five counties in the commonwealth, with the highest per capita overdose death rates, are all in our district. Similarly, four of the top five counties with the most fentanyl-related overdose deaths are also in our district."
The anti-fentanyl effort "is based on a successful initiative in Manatee County, Florida, where law enforcement aggressively prosecuted fentanyl-distribution cases, helping in the reduction of overdose death rates," Duncan wrote. "The program resulted in a significant number of federal prosecutions."
Duncan said his office "will investigate and aggressively prosecute doctors who prey on opioid addiction here in Kentucky and defraud the government in the process. Finally, as part of our mission to reduce access to all illegal drugs, we will continue our support of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a multi-agency effort to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug trafficking and criminal organizations." (Read more)